16 Dec. 2021
Tucked away in Christmas Hills, Sugarloaf Reservoir is a picturesque parkland with plenty to offer. The Saddle Dam picnic area is a pretty grassy open space with deciduous trees and water views, ideal for savouring a picnic. Wander down to explore the shoreline, throw a line in to take home some rainbow trout, yellow belly, redfin or European carp, or even cook up your catch on the undercover barbecue. If you’re feeling energetic, there’s a challenging 18km walk around the breath-taking reservoir.
For a dose of cuteness, pop into one of Omaru Alpaca Farm’s Open Days. The scenic property in Cottles Bridge is the ideal spot for a picnic. Feed the alpaca mums and pat the super-sweet babies before venturing along one of the farm walks to see the farm and take in the views. There’s also a farm store brimming with beautiful products made from alpaca fleece. The nearby village of Hurstbridge is an historic township with an enticing array of cafes and restaurants, boutique gift shops, parks, walking trails and oodles of charm.
Extending from Smiths Gully in the north to Watsons Creek in the south, this series of reserves forms a corridor of remnant bushland across 140ha. There is an extensive network of trails to discover, leading you through communities of rare and endangered plants and animals, and past sites of cultural and historical significance. The Wurundjeri Food, Fibre and Medicine self-guided walk will give families a deeper understanding of how the Wurundjeri people used the land to provide themselves with food, medicines, clothing and shelter. Explore the Felix Borsari Wildflower Walk and look for wildlife in Bunjil Reserve. When you’ve worked up an appetite, the Panton Hill Hotel is a charming country pub with a large outdoor area, play equipment and live music.
Colourful, alternative and vibrant, the Saturday-morning St Andrews Market has become something of a Melbourne icon. Located in the foothills of the Kinglake Ranges, the market is packed with stores touting anything that’s fresh, handmade, recycled and creative. The bush setting provides the perfect backdrop for wandering through a medley of fresh produce, plants and flowers, secondhand clothes, and locally made artisan wares. Buskers, pony rides and a tantalising range of food add to the festival atmosphere.
You’ll really feel like you’ve escaped the city at the Edendale Community Environment Farm. Wander through the gardens dotted with artworks made from recycled items, stop to pat the goats and alpacas, visit the poultry pens and feed a guinea pig, or pop into the indigenous nursery for some goodies to plant in your own garden. You can kick back at the alfresco Eden Café while the kids play in the sandpit and, afterwards, walk along the Diamond Creek Trail to the Eltham North Adventure Playground, an impressive park where kids can explore, climb and swing on the new state-of-the-art equipment.
This new nature-themed play space has something for everyone with dedicated junior and senior play areas, flying foxes, a nature play and cubby area, as well as gym equipment, picnic shelters, seating and tables, barbecues and public toilets. Set in the natural parkland environment, it also backs on to the Diamond Creek Trail for anyone with bikes and scooters on board. And, of course, there is the Tram Café for all your snack and caffeine needs.